Oman came up after I had been released from a shelved contract in Kazakhstan. I had sat on my butt for a couple of months and I was chomping at the bit to get back in the saddle. As luck would have it another opportunity presented itself at the same time.
The other opportunity was to be Quality Manager on a cross-country pipeline in Saudi Arabia which would mean single status for a full year with a month vacation after 12 months worked, renewable. On the other hand, the Oman project was to assess and improve the Quality Management System in a facility manufacturing specialist pipes used to heat up oil down-hole thereby changing the viscosity making recovery far more efficient and profitable. It would be conducted with 5 weeks on 2 weeks off rotation over a 6 month period and the money was better.
The Saudi pipeline would have meant residential status. If the client was Saudi Aramco I would not be keen to be involved as I have had experiences with them as a company which I would not want to repeat.
I weighed the pros and cons between the two opportunities and had little problem coming down on the side of Oman, a country that until then I had not worked in. As things have turned out I believe my choice was right although having completed only 5 months of the 6 months due to a downturn in the Oil and Gas activity and subsequently for a year been searching my next contract which till now has not materialised.
As normal in these situations, the logistics of getting me to the workplace were subject to all the vagaries of international travel and logistics at the destination but after the contract had been signed by both parties I was on my to my next project.
Muscat is the capital of Oman and I had reached from Cape Town via Doha, Qatar. My arrival was just normal processing through passport control followed by me purchasing a visitors visa. The hotel driver collected me at the baggage reclaim and I was taken to my hotel a ride of approximately 30 minutes. As it was late in the evening I checked in and made my way to my room and bed without further ado.
The next day I took a cab to the office where I gathered my instructions for the job in hand and a hire car which was to be my means of transport. I have to say it was a nice Nissan saloon which turned out to be a very comfortable drive. After the briefing, the project manager and I drove down to the location where the manufacturing facility was situated to get a feel for what was required. When I got out of the vehicle I got my first exposure to the searing 50-degree C heat in the blinding Omani sun. The rest of the day passed quite quickly with the normal introductions, an allocation of office for me and then the 80 km journey back to Muscat where my hotel was.
I ended up carrying out my work over the next 5 months on a 5 and 2 rotation until it ceased in December 2015 due to external oil and gas economic factors.
So the work in Oman was such that I had to draw on my experience and skills developed over 30 years of similar work. I left having completed my remit to the satisfaction of the client and it was a pleasant working experience for me, but also an enjoyable Arab exposure as Oman in my estimation is the best and most friendly Arab country I have worked in. A magical place which I would recommend to anyone wanting to sample the delights of the middle east.
My brief stay in Oman allowed me some exposure to the country outside of Muscat due to the distance I had to travel to work, circa 160 km round trip. Other excursions were of my own volition and took me off in different directions.
Muscat has many restaurants, for the most part, they are Indian cuisine, but there is a large immigrant working population that uses a lot of those outlets. There is, however, many other cuisines and it's just a matter of finding them. For the most part, the food is very good and as is everywhere else you have to cut your cloth according to your tailor. You can drink in hotel bars and the nightlife is as vibrant as anywhere else I have been, save a couple of places.
The Omani countryside is predominantly desert with patches of greenery in the intermittent Oases. The summer heat is a mind-boggling 50 deg. C. The road system is excellent, remembering Oman is but a small country. Driving is not dissimilar to the rest of the middle east, at best chaotic although organised. It is the driving skills that fall short.
In my short time in Oman I met good people, I saw places pleasing to the eye, I was transported to biblical times at some venues, and stunning beauty in others. The food was excellent, I found and eagerly dispatched a delicious chicken curry prepared by the chef of the turtle reserve. So much did I enjoy it that my food friends snapped up a copy that I had purloined directly from the chef himself keeping it in pride of place. Such was the enjoyment.
Oman is the only Arab country I would revisit without question. It is a beautiful hot, beautiful place, populated with beautiful people, at least of those I met. The only Arab country to have held such sway in my mind. Enjoy!
Written by chulovision